Awards & Engraving

2012 Sublimation Report

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current printer or maybe you need the ability to produce larger substrates. Here are my considerations: Is it time to retire an older printer like an Epson 4000, 4800 or 4880? Are there opportunities to expand your product offerings with larger substrates such as all-over printed shirts, floor mats, and large ChromaLuxe metal panels? Of course, keep in mind that an appropriately sized heat press is required to produce large substrates. Can you benefit from faster printing? Apparel decorators and those folks pro- ducing soft promotional products can really benefit the most. Would you like to have lower operating costs? Yes, I know, that's a silly question. Will improved reliability make a big difference in your work environment? Yes, maybe that's another silly question, but while reliability is important to all of us, it is even more important to high- volume and/or time-sensitive environ- ments where small problems can become huge disasters. BUILT FOR RELIABILITY/ BUILT TO LAST When most folks think of Epson printers, they think about one of the desktop versions like an old C88, 1280, 1400, 4880, etc. It's almost as though Epson is two companies: one for desktop and one for large format. Except for the name, the two have little in common. One of the biggest differences is that large-format units use a pressurized ink system instead of a gravity-feed version. This innovation, along with a really big and fancy printhead (See Image 2), minimizes head clogging and ink starva- tion. Keeping the ink under continuous pressure ensures minimal head clogging during high-speed printing. I still rec- ommend printing a nozzle check at the beginning of every print day or when- ever you think there may be an issue. I also recommend that you docu- ment any issues in a printer diary so that any repeating issues are easy to identify. So, combine a great ink delivery system, a state-of- the-art printhead, and an awesome paper mover, and you have the Epson 7700 and 9700 printers. Now let's talk about what makes these great printers for dye-sublimation. COLOR & QUALITY How many colors does a printer need? Are more colors better? Do six- or eight- color printers print better than four-color printers? The additional colors required for six- and eight-color printers don't pro- vide any improvement in the color gamut, since the extra colors are merely diluted versions of the full-strength CMYK inks (yet the ink companies charge us the same price). When printing at the highest resolution and on very expensive media, there is a slight improvement in a printed photograph's lights and mid-tones. Since the dye-sub process requires a mere 360 dpi for soft substrates and 720 dpi for hard substrates, it is very difficult to see any benefit from having the extra colors. Bottom line is that four colors get the job done for dye-sub transfer. The Epson 7700 and 9700 are four- Image 2 color printers (cyan, magenta, yellow, and black) with five ink cartridge slots (cyan, magenta, yellow, photo black, and matte black). For dye-sublimation printing, we insert the black dye-sub cartridge into the printer's matte black slot and insert either an ink cartridge or cleaning cartridge into the printer's photo black slot. For the printer to operate properly, each slot must have a cartridge inserted into it. When printing, the media type (selected by the user within the driver settings) determines which slot the black ink is pulled from. INKS: THE FUEL OF SUBLIMATION Sawgrass developed the SubliJet E ink formula to meet these opportunities. This new formula provides an excellent color gamut and produces an impressive "Harley Davidson" black. Each cartridge holds 350 ml of ink, allowing extended continuous printing between cartridge changes. Remember to recycle your empty cartridges. Spring 2012 39

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